Aliens have invaded Earth through some kind of additive to the water which induces a blissful haze in people, and can be used to cure illnesses, modify bodies, or even alter a person’s age. Over time, the whole world is changed by this process or entity called the Seep which ultimately leads to a utopia where everyone can do or have whatever they want.
The premise is so unconventional that the potential to develop an engaging and thought-provoking story is a given, but somehow it was utterly wasted on this dud. The worldbuilding, for instance, is inadequate because everything is explained either only in passing or without any background to make it believable or understandable in any way. I’m not sure whether this happened due to laziness or disinterest, or simply because the author believes that there doesn’t have to be any logic to the scenario if aliens are at the root of it.
On top of that, I did not care about anyone in this book because no one has any depth, not even the main character Trina, even though as a Native American, Jewish trans woman she should definitely have had a life story worth telling. But no, we never hear much about what she has been through, or how the Seep changed her life. The other characters are no more than devices to advance the plot or to show some ridiculous aspect of the Seep’s impact, like Trina’s wife, who wants to become a baby again, and not only that, she wants to become Trina‘s baby, and seems to have no sympathy for Trina’s horror at the plan. There is also a boy that escaped from the Compound, a community of people that reject the Seep, and the only thing we learn about him is that he is in search of people who are not kind, and we never get any further information on the Compound at all. Most of Trina’s friends seem like caricatures or embodiments of vapidness and thoughtlessness who are only ever looking for the next kick because they are so bored with their own existence.
The whole book thrives on grotesque exaggerations and often reads like a satire, if only it weren’t utterly lacking the self-awareness to be one. This world Porter invented is not a utopia in any conceivable way; it is a shiny but soulless dystopia, and if any part of this book endeavours to be a commentary on today’s society then its tool is a sledgehammer, but one that doesn’t manage to hit anything at all.
CBR12 Bingo: Debut